Kai Haakon Kristensen



Skanska og NTNU






c/o Institutt for produksjons- og kvalitetsteknikk

7491 Trondheim 



S.P Andersens vei 5

Tittel på avhandling:

 «Building Design Management – Management of the Cooperative Design and its Interdisciplinary Functions»



In the construction industry, the impact of designs and the quality of such designs are directly related to the profits or losses incurred in construction processes. The industry identifies building design management as one of the key success factors to achieve constructions and buildings that generate profits for their stakeholders and at the same time fulfil the goals and purpose of the final results. However, building design management has not been subject to extensive research in recent decades and it suffers from a substantial lack of common understanding of what constitutes sufficient and adequate design management. Despite initiatives as BIM (building information modelling) and ‘Lean', the knowledge of basic design management is still unclear and there is huge potential for research that will lead to a strengthening of the understanding, and hence its execution and subsequent results.

The dissertation starts with a recognition of the need for clarity regarding the role of Design Manager. These needs are triangulated between the researcher's own experience, surveys of comparable industries, mapping of building design management in praxis, and a review of professional and scientific literature. From the identified weaknesses and gaps in knowledge that emerge from the triangulation, four interconnected research questions are singled out and treated as separate initiatives. Two initiatives are considered the seminal contribution of this thesis, while the other are considered supportive of the first.


The four initiatives have their roots in the context of design management and were chosen based on the findings in the preliminary mapping. The first seminal initiative pursues a governance framework, which could describe the leadership aspects of the design management assignment that drives the process forward. The second initiative is the restructuring of the concept of ‘waste' in the design process. This initiative seeks to clarify what constitutes waste and what countermeasures exist. The third initiative scrutinizes the basic ability of planning, scheduling, and control on the operative level, ending with suggestions for actions to improve its efficiency. The fourth and last seminal initiative pursues the idea of introducing performance measurement into the design process as a means to increase the levels of quality of the process and its products.


The research questions are a combination of applied and action research questions. The initiatives were pursued under prevailing research processes and rooted in its ontology and epistemology. The initiative pursuing governance models has its roots in relativism and the remaining three have their roots in nominalism and social constructionism. For practical reasons, the research has a philosophical base, is founded on the principles of social constructionism, and is primarily an inductive mode of research. In some cases, deductive research was performed, although rooted in its inductive stage. These reflections constitute a qualitative strategy where general quantitative methods were applied and action research was applied in attempts to answer some of the specific research questions related to the third and fourth general research questions (initiatives). Having defined the philosophical roots and their predominant research methodologies, a set of quality requirements for the research was developed in order to ensure credibility, validity, and relevance for the research.


The governance model for the Design Manager is used in the pursuit of a proactive model that could describe how the Design Manager could govern and lead an assignment. The governance framework is grounded in theory and is confirmed by observations made during design coordination meetings. A discrepancy between the industry's role descriptions and the roles that are performed has been registered, indicating the need for a common model that describes the Design Manager's role and responsibilities. The governance model acts as guidance for Design Managers and constitutes the essence of actions taken to ensure a healthy and successful design process.


In order to expand the knowledge of design management, it is necessary to have extensive knowledge of the pitfalls and potential negative sides of the design process. To expand the knowledge map for design management, an initiative to develop sufficient knowledge for identifying waste in the design process prior to and during the design process were undertaken. Given the knowledge of what constitutes waste, appropriate countermeasures are possible to execute on a strategic and tactical level. In addition to providing an extensive taxonomy for waste and the appurtenant countermeasures, the research has mapped the reasons for and consequences of the various waste elements. Design Managers with extensive knowledge of waste stand a better chance of ensuring efficient and effective design processes.


One of the essential areas of design management is to execute the planning, scheduling, and control at a satisfactory level for all stakeholders. To increase the knowledge and present a practical solution of how to master this challenge, an initiative which focused on the operational phase of these three aspects were undertaken. Here, the overall plans, schedules, and control instruments were put into action within the design coordination meetings and mapped in several projects. The praxis of traditional execution of design coordination meetings and documentation of them was, in effect, documented and analysed based on these coordination meetings. This traditional method of planning, scheduling, and control is difficult and ineffective, and these problems are documented in three case studies. The results point to clearly defined needs for improvement. The improvements are presented as possibilities that are easy for the Design Manager to grasp.


Performance measurement as a tool for the Design Manager to control the design process was developed and partially tested. The initiative stemmed from the idea that traditional quality checks and control instruments are lagging, and give the Design Manager limited chance of control over the process and products of the design process. By introducing a system that indicates the trends of crucial aspects of the design process, the Design Manager will become better equipped with tools to support decisions based on a factual foundation rather than on intuition. The results of tests conducted in four projects[1] show that the tested indicators are functional and give effect when implemented in the design process. Full testing of the performance measurement system was not performed due to resource limitations within the projects. However, the results indicated that by introducing performance measurement into the process, the Design Manager has a powerful tool to support the planning and scheduling, and a tool for gaining control during the process that ultimately leads to better quality design material.


The four initiatives presented in the thesis could have an impact on the reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness of the design process. Following the implementation of these findings, the beneficial effects are likely to be experienced in several arenas. The four initiatives are expected to support the education of future Design Managers, providing them with extensive knowledge of important aspects of their role. Research on design management could benefit from the findings presented in the thesis and test the suggestions for further development and insights. In addition, the practitioners of design management will benefit from the findings of the research, given their willingness to adapt and change traditional methods. By increasing the level of knowledge with regard to both what the design management role is and how to perform it, better results, increased efficiency, and better quality design outcomes can be expected.


The thesis concludes with a discussion of the contribution to both knowledge and practice. Two of four separate initiatives have pushed the knowledge in their respective areas to a new frontier. The remaining two stretches the borderline of knowledge and supports the seminal two initiatives. Together, the internal relations between the areas have been identified. The contribution to practice is presented in the form of a framework and tools and methods that are easy to comprehend and easy to implement within organizations and execute in construction projects. Given these changes, increased efficiency and effectiveness will become apparent during the course of the design process. The main contributions of the thesis can be summarized as follows:

  • The governance system for design management
  • The taxonomy of waste in design with its appurtenant countermeasures
  • Practical advice for the facilitation of planning, scheduling, and control in the operational phase of the design process
  • A new system of performance measurement in the design process.